In many ways, Mulgrew and Hepburn are similar, Mulgrew readily admits, noting "We were both products of a large family and remarkable parents. She lost a brother. I lost two sisters. …We came from intellectually stimulating families with inaccessible fathers and avant-garde, unorthodox mothers. We love a life of discipline."
But Mulgrew who had two children during her first marriage and is now married to an Ohio politician, also finds differences, explaining, "She sacrificed much more than I did and gained what she wanted."
The play, in its original form, opened in Hepburn's home state, Connecticut. Mulgrew says of that 2002 premiere, "It was strangely, very comforting. We were happily received." At least for the first time. The second time the show hit Connecticut and Boston, Mulgrew says was a bit chilly. "Never play it twice—not a one-person show. This isn't a musical. This isn't 'Mama Mia.' It's grave and self-deprecating."
The play takes place at Hepburn's family home in Fenwick, CT, opening right after she's been labeled box office poison and the year, 1938, she would make a comeback. The second act takes place in 1983, after Spencer Tracy's 1967 death and after her fourth Oscar win for the 1981 "On Golden Pond."
Mulgrew garnered an Outer Critics Circle Award Nomination and a Lucille Lortel Award Nomination for her Off-Broadway performance. Since then she's been touring the country, hitting Seattle and San Francisco before stopping in Pasadena.
Over these last few years, Mulgrew, who finds facing Star Trek fans more daunting than Hepburn fanatics, has found a subtle transitioning in her fan base. Those that were attracted to her portrayal of Janeway are shifting over to appreciate her one-person show because she believes they are basically "attracted to metal," meaning "women with great grit" and the idea of "a life that’s been richly lived."
Although Mulgrew isn't adverse to possible TV work in the future, she's more set on remaining on stage. Her next project isn't a matter of serendipity though, or maybe just a little. She's determined to play Shakespeare's Cleopatra if she can find the right Anthony. When you hear the commanding timber in Mulgrew's voice, you know that actor must have presence to hold his half of the stage before her queen of the Nile.
Yet that's in the future and probably won't be for Los Angeles theatergoers. So from now until Oct 2, go to the Pasadena Playhouse to see two very formidable Kates.